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Biography of José Rodríguez González (1770-1824)

Surveying and mineralogist, born in Santa María de Bernés (Pontevedra) in 1770 and died in Santiago de Compostela in 1824. He studied first in Monforte (Lugo) in 1787 in the Colegio de San Jerónimo, in the city of Santiago. In 1790 he received the degree of Bachelor of philosophy, and continued studies in theology. 1798-1799 course played the substitution of the Chair in mathematics at the Faculty of medicine, winning the Chair by opposition in 1800. Between 1801 and 1803 he gave teaching from his chair at the time studying Botany. Having requested permission to go to Paris, then moved to that city, where he studied astronomy and mathematics at the College of pharmacy, and engaged in relations with some scientists such as Jean-Baptiste Biot. In August 1806 the Spanish Government appointed him, along with José Chaix, Commissioner for operations of the measurement of the Meridian arc, to accompany you and help the French Commissioners Jean-Baptiste Biot and François Arago. The purpose of these operations was to extend the measure, by Pierre-François-André Méchain and Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre, of the arc between Dunkirk and Barcelona to the island of Formentera. The company was completed in may 1808 and "political circumstances did not permit any subsequent operations, as a means of testing the results, by the measurement of a base that would be independent of the obtained before in France," according to notes the own Rodríguez.

In 1809 Rodríguez obtained a new order of the Spanish Government for it to happen to England in order to examine the scientific establishments of that nation and in particular for the practice and teaching of astronomy, and its application to geography and navigation. During his stay in London presented the communication Observations on the measurement of therr degrees of the Meridian, conducted in England by Liutenant Colonel William Mudge, which was read to the Royal Society by José de Mendoza y Ríos on June 4, 1812. In the middle of last year he returned to Galicia, and returned to his chair but for a short time, since in 1814 again undertook a tour of Europe with the official Commission of perfected in the natural sciences, and especially in the mineralogy. Residing in Germany, he made relationship apparently with Abraham Gottlob Werner, probably then started their mineralogical Collections. Later, in Paris, he met René-Just Haüy, who gave him a collection consisting of 1,024 representative models of all Crystallographic types possible derivations. This collection, years after the death of Rodríguez, went to the University of Santiago, which was studied between 1872 and 1874 by Augusto González de Linares and Laureano Calderon spider. During his stay in the French capital, Rodríguez González was invited to conduct the geographic depot of Russia, invitation rejected, and moved to Madrid to the position of Professor of astronomy from the Observatory of this city, dependent then Museum of natural sciences, entrusting him both the reorganization of the Observatory. Liberal ideology, during the period 1821-1823 Rodríguez was Deputy to Cortes by Galicia, where he died.

Apart from some elaborate calendars during the period in which was a professor at the Observatory of Madrid, the only printed work by Rodríguez referred to is communication above cited, Observations on the measurement... The main purpose of this work is to analyze the results obtained by William Mudge in measuring the arc of Meridian between Clifton and Dunnose (England). Rodríguez, with data published by Mudge and employing the method and formulas of Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, has all the calculations, highlighting the observation errors committed by the English surveying - in particular those relating to the latitude of the intermediate station located in Arbuny-Hill - and, thus, wrong conclusions of the author about the shape of the Arch of Meridian. Then and using other measurements made by different authors, conducted several checks of the shape of the Earth, discovering in particular the error of 200 yards to the degree of parallel committed by William Lambton from his surveying work in the India. Delambre, in the Connaisance des Temps to 1816, he published an extract from the communication of Rodríguez and in his Grandeur et Figure de la Terre (1912) said, with regard to the criticisms of the Spanish author to Lambton: "but Rodríguez says have found 200 yards of error on this measure, or this number. "Indeed, with this correction (P = 57094 toises, M = 56763 yards) are 1:328, 31 which approximates to the ideas today extended" (P means the linear length of an arc of parallel and M of one of Meridian, both a grade, and 12 ° 32´37´´ North latitude). Other authors, as Franz Xaver von Zarch commented on Rodríguez's work, and agreed on just enough of their conclusions.



"Observations on the measurement of three degrees of the Meridian, conducted in England by Lieutenant Colonel William Mudge", in Philosophical Transactions, (1812). The Edition in Spanish of this work has been published by Ramón M. Aller (see below) from Rodríguez memory that is preserved in the University of Santiago and that, according to Aller, coincides exactly with the communication to the Royal Society.


ALLER, Ramón M.: "the study more complete and documented on Rodríguez González (or Bernese mathematician)", in archives seminar studies Galegos, no. 3, pp. 15-95, 1929.CARRACIDO, José R.: crystallography in Spain in historical-critical studies of the Spanish science, 2nd ed, pp. 265-278 (Madrid, 1917). Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada, vol. LI, pp. 1,300-1.301 ECHIARRI, a.: development of mathematics and physics in Spain during the 18th century and some causes of the decline in the 19th century: corrections to some totalitarian topics, (communication to the twelfth annual meeting of mathematical Spaniards). (Universidad de Málaga, 21 to April 24, 1976).

Víctor Naverro Brotons

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